So there I was in my hospital bed, hooked up to a Patient Controlled Analgesia, morphine pumping through me every 15 minutes, oxygen tube in, drip in, catheter in, DVT stockings and footpumps to keep the blood circulating. And honestly, it really didn’t feel that bad – although now I’m sure that was just the morphine talking!
Before the operation I scoured the internet for anything I could find about the PAO operation and recovery. I read blogs, joined forums and support groups, bought books – it all terrified me. The pain, the medication, the anti-DVT stockings, the loss of independence. The closer I got to the operation date, the scarier all these things became. But, to my relief, I was about to find that the reality was very far from the picture I had painted for myself.
This blogpost is for anyone out there now, frantically scouring the internet and getting increasingly scared about the first few days following the operation. It won’t necessarily be as bad as you think.
1st Day Post-Op (Thursday) – The physios came in to teach me some simple bed exercises, got me sitting up, and, to my horror, tried to get me standing up and walking. I just about managed to stand up and a tiny shuffle before the pain and nausea overwhelmed me – back to bed it was! Along with a brief incident where I started stroking my friends beard and laughing deliriously to myself, that was my entire day.
2nd Day Post-Op (Friday) – Sadly, my PCA was taken away this morning. This meant no more morphine and I was put onto pills. Now more mobile, I was ordered to try sitting in a chair but this gave me the most intense nerve pain. It felt like my thigh was engulfed in flames and being stabbed by a hundred little needles at the same time. But on the bright side, I made it up and out of bed! I was taught how to walk properly using my walker (catheter in tow) and made it all the way to the end of the room and back. I was booked in for a hydrotherapy session but after my mammoth adventure, I spent the rest of the day resting. The highlight of my day was a delivery of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies from my favourite cookie fairy.
3rd Day Post-Op (Saturday) – My first hydro session! It was amazing. I can’t recommend it enough to anyone doing the operation, make sure you start your hydro as early as possible. It’s like walking up and down in a lovely warm bath. Everything is warm, light and floaty. And you feel like a semi-normal functioning person with cooperating limbs in there. Hydro was going to become the highlight of my recovery process in London. It was also my first shower since Tuesday. And I managed to graduate from room walking to corridor walking with crutches. So just an all round excellent day.
4th Day Post-Op (Sunday) – What I have never realised before is that if you lie in the same position for multiple hours pressure collects in your heels and, for a brief period, that pressure hurts more than the operation pain. If this happens to you – don’t spend the whole night lying there in pain. Ask a nurse to roll up a couple of towels, or grab some pillows and put them under your ankles so that your heels are a little elevated. The pain should stop soon after. When I woke up, I continued with my land physio exercises and practiced walking. I had another glorious shower. It was all looking good. I still had my nerve pain, but I found if I could endure it and sit still long enough it eventually went away.
I was lucky enough to be visited everyday by my lovely mum and boyfriend, Lucas. Most days they would come in the morning and keep me company until after dinner time. And then have to battle their way home in the cold, which, for mum, was well over an hour away. I’m so thankful for their company and their support, it definitely made my hospital experience a lot easier.
5th Day Post-Op (Monday) – This turned into one of those manic days. Not for me – I just sat there while everyone around me panicked and fussed, especially for my poor mum. I had my second hydro session just before lunch (fantastic!). Afterwards, we had to pack up all my things, pick up all the necessary rehab equipment, and pay all the bills. Most importantly, get all the drugs together (there’s a story on this in the next blogpost). I was discharged, and mum and I were off to our flat to recover – and that was that!
It was 5 very hectic, full-on days of physio, recovery and mental endurance – which showed me just how incredible and quick the body’s recovery system is. The London Clinic was fantastic but it’s very easy to improve when you have professional help around you 24/7. It was now on to the next challenge – continuing the recovery process at home. And of course, the challenge of mum and I not killing each other in the next 5 weeks!
** For anyone that does suffer from hip dysplasia I cannot recommend these enough:
- A Guide for Adults with Hip Dysplasia – West and Sutherland (Book)
- Peri-Acetabular Osteotomy (PAO) – UK Based Group (Facebook Support Group)
- Adult Hip Dysplasia (Facebook Support Group)
And for anyone that has any questions, please feel free to comment or message me – I would love to help if I can!